New Delhi: Areeb Majeed, 22, is back home from Iraq-Turkey and currently in the custody of the National Investigation Agency (NIA). According to the intelligence sources, they tracked the call of Majeed to a city in Turkey, from where he had called his family after “escaping from the clutches of the Islamic State (IS)”. The agency then brought back Majeed to Mumbai, by using diplomatic channels.
This is the same civil engineering student from Kalyan in Mumbai, of a group of four, who had left India on May 23 to join and fight for the IS (also called ISIS) in Iraq. While, Majeed chose to go to Mosul to fight for the IS, his other three friends Fahad Sheikh, Shaheen Tanki and Aman Tandel opted to work for the social media wing of the IS.
Meanwhile, Majeed reportedly married a Palestinian girl Tahira – a fact that came to light in July through Facebook, but was later declared ‘killed in a bomb blast, while fighting as an IS jihadi”. This news was communicated to his family by Shaheem Tanki’s family, whom the latter had called to inform about Majeed’s death. While, his family performed a funeral ceremony and were still in deep shock, suddenly on November 20, the ‘dead’ Majeed called his father Dr Ejaz Majeed claiming that he had escaped from the clutches of the IS and wanted to return home. The NIA brought him back.
There are perceptible holes in his ‘narrow escape’ story. The intelligence agencies must be grappling with many questions around Areeb Majeed, who was rechristened as Abu Ali Al Hindi on joining the IS, some of which could be as follows:
Is Majeed just another lucky ‘jihadi’ to get back home safe, after getting disenchanted with the IS as he was asked to do odd jobs like cleaning toilets or act as a guard, instead of allowing him to fight on battlefield?
Did he really escape from Iraq or was he deliberately let off on the Turkish border by his masters?
If letting him off is a ploy, what is the ulterior motive of IS behind it?
Is he being used as an agent for radicalizing youth and recruiting them or is he a propaganda tool for the IS?
How long can he be detained, as there are no criminal charges against him, except news reports of his joining the IS?
What about his other three friends?
“It’s very difficult to buy this story. Highly radicalized through internet, Majeed was in Iraq with the IS for nearly six months and then escaped from their clutches to return home bearing bullet injuries. This sounds quite improbable. The IS may have played a bigger game by letting him off. This could be a ploy,” said counter-terrorism analyst Anil Kamboj.
“Now in India, he can be a motivating factor for many youth, who are radicalized and looking forward to be a part of the jihadi movement,” he added.
There are inexplicable events that give rise to suspicions whether these were orchestrated by the IS to have a deeper understanding of India’s intelligence system, its operations and making an inroad into the country to connect with a select group of radicalized youth, waiting to be ‘jihadis’. Like, Tanki calling his family, Majeed’s reported marriage, Majeed’s recent call to his parents to rescue him or Majeed’s claim regarding disenchantment.
“The IS had expressed its plan to expand its base, and al-Qaeda countered it by making a video announcement. It’s a territorial battle to have control over Indian sub-continent. Now, gradually through systematic brain washing through internet, they are radicalizing groups of Muslim youth, which is small in comparison to our large Muslim population. It’s a matter of great concern both for our society and country’s security. It’ll have serious implications on our social fabric,” said former Research & Analysis Wing chief CD Sahay.
He added, “The possibility of the IS ploy can’t be ruled out, because terrorist outfits like the IS, al-Qaeda or LeT won’t let their recruits simply go back. It needs deeper investigation.”
A central intelligence source agreed. “It’s not an easy task to escape from the IS. Nor they would let them off, because it would lead to a leakage of information about the organization and an indoctrinated soldier would get wasted.”
“There are reasons to suspect Majeed, as we were told that he was given money by the IS and was allowed, probably escorted up to the Turkish border to have a free passage to India. NIA is verifying his claims, as there are several contradictions,” the source claimed.
According to sources, the NIA and the Maharashtra ATS are treading cautiously while interrogating this “misguided youth”. The agencies are trying to figure out the inexplicable leads -- “whether Majeed has been sent on a mission or he was truly disenchanted and what happened to his other three friends? Are they being kept hostage against Majeed?”
“May be, he has been planted by the IS to accelerate radicalization in India and bring more youth into the terrorism fold. The returnees are more dangerous, because once the law free them, they can operate through sleeper modules and become a credible voice of a terrorist group. A thorough investigation and analysis of the trend is needed,” remarked director, Centre for Security & Strategy, Alok Bansal.
Majeed has been booked under Sections 16, 18, 20 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) relating to conspiracy in a terrorist act, and Section 125 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for waging war against a country which has friendly ties with India.
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Updated Date: Dec 01, 2014 07:25:38 IST